The Couva South group demonstrating outside the Red House yesterday against Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had arrived too late for many MPs to have seen them.
And they weren’t there when yesterday’s function launching the Parliamentary term was over. But the yellow Tshirts were as conspicuous as the orchestration of the effort by United National Congress’ Devant Maharaj.
The play was one of several yesterday marking the launch of a term which will, from all indications – before yesterday’s launch and after – will be harder than the last for all fronts involved – Government, Opposition, country.
Nevertheless, they were all out boldly yesterday. People’s National Movement Government MPs with no sign of the tougher position the party’s in – having lost one seat – and with only a three-seat majority to achieve the necessary. Learning the hard way how slim that majority is when PNM’s Foster Cummings arrived late, dropping PNM’s vote for House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George to a slim 21 to UNC’s 19.
Same show of confidence by the Opposition UNC, reinforced by its Moruga addition. And immediately dropping objections on two matters, which PNM equally quickly labelled “obstructionist” modus operandi expected throughout ahead.
Yesterday’s launch indicated both sides will be combatants toward a cause. It remains to unfold where the cause will truly lie following President Paula-Mae Weekes’ very relevant advice to them, couched in her pointed query which nearly everyone’s also asking: Can We Trust You?
In the respective changed circumstances post-election, the changes in each side’s playbook will be shaped by their respective internal needs balanced with external national interest.
PNM’s statements hint at some of its changes to come. The Opposition leader’s said she intends leading the strongest Opposition ever. If this is indeed the “twilight” of her political career, activities under her watch will doubly reinforce the strength of her Opposition and UNC’s aim at Government’s choice for House Speaker yesterday was prime signal of the rockiness ahead in Parliament. Not just with PNM.
The PNM’s 22-member team, which includes eight newbies (four of who have some political experience), won’t be outweighed by UNC’s 19, which has 10 newcomer MPs (four with certain experience also).
Whatever UNC lacks in the Lower House, its Senate team of Anil Roberts, likely tag teammate David Nakhid, plus veteran Wade Mark and Jearlean John, will have alerted PNM of the need for expanded firepower in the usually sedate Upper House. There, PNM’s Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing and Renuka Sagramsingh-Sooklal’s campaign trail fire will be tested – and Amery Browne’s resilience also.
If Roberts’ at issue in a police probe on Life Sport, PNM MP Roger Monroe is also involved in a family court matter.
Persad-Bissessar’s trendy appearance at her appointment function denoted rebranding which has also manifested in steelier tones post-election. It remains to unfold how future demonstrations might impact her strength, since signals are that she’ll contest the leadership. There’s no one else with her experience/status on her bench. That assures she’ll win. A fact detractors would recognise with the option of backing a contender within UNC against her or seeking a path without. Government’s problems, however, are of a wider nature than UNC’s. Yesterday’s Public Health amendment bill sailed through. But the rest of the challenge lies ahead. Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram detailed how the building wave of recent COVID cases resulted from people’s behaviour in recent weeks. Future caseloads will depend on how people adhered to preventative guidelines this past week and ahead. Tightened regulations on masks and otherwise will determine at what pace T&T emerges from this.
Concern about the contagion level of the runaway Venezuelan teens, was downplayed by indication it was low. Given T&T’s high COVID alert and public anxieties – including about hospitals’ ability to handle issues – authorities and networks assisting foreigners should ensure regulations are adhered to in this category where language may be an issue.
The September 12 deadline of the current Public Health ordinance will be the date by which authorities will likely gauge the effect of recently heightened measures – and decide what else may or may not be needed.